Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership


This qualitative research study is a single case study on the US Open University (USOU) from the perspectives of administrators, board members, associate faculty and staff. The USOU was a sister institution to the UK Open University in Milton Keynes. This study was designed to answer the following research questions: 1) What were the expectations of the USOU and were they met? 2) What assumptions were made that led to the failure/closure of USOU or that led to positive aspects of the USOU model? 3) Why did the USOU close? 4) How, if at all, could the closure have been avoided?

The data were collected over a six-month period. Data were from multiple sources including 15 interviews (administrators, board members, associate faculty and staff), Distance Education and Training Council Self-Study Report completed by USOU administrators, associate faculty orientation manual, journal articles, and newsletters. The interview transcripts were coded with key words leading to frequently occurring concepts. The codes and data were grouped into main categories. Multiple categories were then used to develop the two themes that emerged from the data analysis.

Two themes became apparent through data analysis: factors leading to failure of the USOU and positive aspects of the USOU model. The overall conclusion of the research is that USOU is a mixed story of failure and positive aspects resulting from the USOU model. Some of the factors that led to failure/closure of USOU include: not meeting enrollment projections, business plan with unrealistic enrollment projections, lack of regional accreditation and financial aid, UK structure did not fit the US structure,

marketing campaign with two large goals (recruitment of students and brand recognition), start-up that was under capitalized, resignation of Sir John Daniel which resulted in lack of support for USOU from UKOU, and single-person liaison to the UKOU board. Positive aspects of the USOU model include: enrollments were increasing, academic partnerships were strong, online support services were in place, the administration, staff and associate faculty were committed to USOU, course materials were of quality standard, the USOU board was effective, and students were satisfied (as noted from the perspectives of USOU staff and associate faculty).